Canon EOS R5 - Which 4K camera is best for video, Vlogging, YouTube?

Tempting. I know. We’ve all been there. And I think some of us are there now.

Canon revealed a mega camera in the EOS R5 that will be released in the coming weeks. Indeed, the 8K capable R5 is a mirrorless camera for the ages, perhaps as monumental as the 5D Mark II was back in 2008 — a ground-breaking DSLR for shooting 1080p HD video at the time.

8K for under $4K. Tempting indeed. (In other news Blackmagic took the wraps of its new 12K cinema camera, and Sony is expected to announce the long awaited Alpha a7 S III on July 28)

So maybe you pre-ordered the R5… or are at least are thinking about it… and thinking about it some more.

Stark Insider - Camera news, reviews, videos, filmmaking, opinion by Clinton StarkIs the Canon EOS R5 really the smart choice for Vloggers and other video shooters?

Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital Camera

As an aside here’s a few reasons why the Canon EOS R5 might not be the ideal mirrorless camera for shooting video:

  • 8K video files will be massive. Keep in mind, at launch at least, the R5 will only shoot 8K (8192 x 4320) in RAW. In all practicality I don’t think you’re going to shoot a feature or even a short film in this mode. It would be an absolute storage nightmare and budget breaker.
  • 45MP sensor is best for photographers. I pre-ordered the R5 as a stills-first camera. Video is a bonus on the side. For video-first features and specs, the R6 with its 20MP sensor might be the more sensible choice for video. You’ll likely get better performance in low light, less rolling shutter, possibly fewer overheating issues (pure speculation), and more manageable file sizes. So I’m thinking R5 for stills, R6 for video.
  • RF lenses are (very) expensive $$$$. Sure, you can get an EF/EF-S adapter and use all your existing glass. That’s fine. I suspect at some point though to maximize performance you’ll want to invest in native RF lenses. And “invest” is right, as Canon RF lenses are pricey indeed. Something to consider.
  • Do you really need full frame for video? Super 35 has been the modern day standard for a while.
  • There’s potentially better choices out there! Please see my list below for some ideas.

But while you’re waiting, or still researching, perhaps we should all re-think the decision for a moment and consider some other cameras on the market available right now, all of which do an excellent job of shooting video.

Here’s some of my picks — again these are video-centric cameras. Could one of these cameras possibly suit your needs better than the 45MP 8K beast that is the R5?

Canon EOS R5: 5 other cameras worth your consideration for shooting video

Panasonic Lumix GH5

Why: A modern day classic that does it all when it comes to 4K video. Dual SD slots. Long battery life. Lots of lens and adapter options (Metabones EF is awesome on this camera). Compact, but robust build. Lots of customizable buttons. V-log available. High frame rate options are impressive. Now selling for about half the price when it was first released. This is the Deal of the Century.

Price: $1,298 USD

Buy: Amazon

The Panasonic GH5 received glowing reviews when it was released way back in 2017. Three years later and guess what? Nothing has changed. 4K is 4K. And the GH5 gives you that, plus 4K/60 goodness. Or you can step down to 1080p and shoot up to an impressive 180 fps when you need some slick super slow-mo. Alongside my RED Dragon, the GH5 is one of my all-time favorite cameras. For this price you can save a lot over the expensive R5 body and put that additional budget towards lenses, lighting, rigging like a slider or gimbal and other accessories. Out of the options I’ve listed here, this is easily my #1 pick.

Sony Alpha a7 III

Sony Alpha a7 III Mirrorless Digital Camera

Why: Popular camera among enthusiasts and professionals alike. Outstanding 4K video quality. Lots of e-mount lens options. Low light performance can’t be beat (if that’s high on your list the a7 III is for you). 24MP sensor also suitable for photography.

Price: $1,798 USD

Buy: Amazon

Another excellent choice, especially if you must have full-frame, but don’t want to break the bank. A lot of filmmakers, YouTubers, and commercial shooters turn to the Sony Alpha a7 III for demanding projects. You get superb 4K video quality, an e-mount of course which will be important for those invested in Sony, dual slots, and probably one of, if not the smallest 4K mirrorless bodies around. I’m not a huge fan of the ergonomics or the interface or the non-flippy screen, but if you can live with those minor issues than this could be a good full-frame alternative to the EOS R5.

Canon EOS 90D

Canon EOS 90D or Canon EOS R5 - that is the question

Why: Canon reliability and auto-focus performance are two big reasons to consider the 90D. Price is another. Sure, it’s only an APS-C sensor, but the price is far more palatable, and Super 35 video is perfectly fine for most applications. High frame rates aren’t impressive so if you need that look elsewhere.

Price: $1,199 USD

Buy: Amazon

Those who have checked into Stark Insider over the years know I’ve long been a Canon guy. Way back I started out on a Canon Vixia camcorder shooting interviews at local theaters, then went EOS 60D -> 70D -> 80D. Canon’s auto-focus is a big reason behind those decisions. Reliability would be another. While I didn’t upgrade to the 90D (I use the GH5/RED Dragon combo for studio projects now) this traditional DSLR body is well worth considering for video. In addition to the best-in-class DPAF system, the 90D has top notch ergonomics, and easy to use interface, fully articulating screen, and, partly because it doesn’t need to power an EVF (electronic viewfinder), the battery goes forever.

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (or 6K)

Blackmagic Camera Update - CEO Grant Petty presentation live stream
Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty launching the then new Pocket Cinema Camera.

Why: Unbeatable price/value ratio. Free license of DaVinci Resolve included so you can edit, color grade and deliver right out of the box without spending more for additional software. Beautiful color science. BRAW compression options yield smaller file sizes. Watch out though for awkward body shape and design; may require rigging accessories.

Price: $1,295 USD for Pocket 4K (MFT mount) | $1,995 USD for Pocket 6K (EF mount)

Buy: Amazon

Thank our lucky stars for a company like Blackmagic Design. The Australian-based A/V company famously pushed into camera bodies many years ago, and as a result have pushed prices down while pushing technology forward. If you’re on a budget and want a purely cinema dedicated camera this is the one to get and learn. BRAW codec. Log modes. High frame rates. Filmic footage. Blackmagic delivers across the board. Yes, ergonomics are a little funky. The rear LCD, for instance, is fixed in place so you’ll likely want an external monitor. No big deal though, easy enough to mount and get the monitoring you need. Battery life isn’t the best, but as far as cinema cameras go it’s decent enough so long as you plan ahead. If I wasn’t so smitten by Redcode I’d likely be shooting BRAW and Blackmagic.

Angenieux 12-120mm on Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera
One of my all-time favorite lenses is the vintage Angenieux 12-120mm. Crank that zoom! Here it is mounted on a Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera.

PS- I’d take the Pocket 4K any day… MFT mount is flexible for mounting my old-school Angenieux Super 16 zoom lens (bought off eBay) which won’t cover the 6K sensor and there’s something about the 4K footage I prefer over the modern, razor sharp look of the Pocket 6K. It all depends on your preference and project.

Canon Cinema EOS C100 Mark II

Canon C100 Mark II with DIY LED gel

Why: All-in-one documentary, run-and-gun style camera, ready to go out of the box. Significant price drops make this an exceptional buy, even in today’s resolution obsessed market. Superb DPAF makes focusing a breeze. XLR audio, ND filters. Dual slots and lots of customizable buttons. Long battery life. Proven workhorse for professional productions.

Price: $2,699 USD

Buy: B&H Photo Video

Cinema EOS cameras are Canon’s professional video and cinema focused camera line-up. C100/C200/C300/C500/C700. My favorite is the entry C100 Mark II. That’s partially because the others are too expensive for me, but also because the C100 can handle just about anything you throw at it: documentary shooting; short filmmaking; wedding videos and films; wildlife; sports; music videos. You name it, the C100 is likely a strong candidate. Except, of course, Vlogging — one look at my C100 II in the above photo should let you know this is not the lightest or most discrete camera setup. Okay, yes, silly elephant in the room. This model doesn’t record 4K files. Gosh. But — but! — it does have a 4K sensor and the camera downsamples in-body to 1080p. It looks fabulous. I’ve compared my 80D side-by-side on shoots with the C100, and the latter is impressively detailed and yet still organic and not overly sharpened (which troubles the GH5 on occasion). Before you rig up an EOS R5 to do doc work (wrong camera for the job in my estimation), consider the C100. You get ND filters, pro XLR audio, long battery life, SD storage for hours, not to mention the DPAF. Highly recommended.

There’s a reason why many film school classes typically tell you to just bring any old camera — specs don’t matter.

BONUS: That smartphone you’re holding in your hand… yes, it can shoot video… nothing is stopping you… seriously, get shooting that project…

You’re probably reading this article on a smartphone. And that smartphone can shoot video. And it will be good enough for a lot of things. It won’t stop you from trying to perfect the art of lighting, or composition, or storytelling, or camera movement.

Nothing is stopping you from starting that project you’ve been planning. There’s a reason why many film school classes typically tell you to just bring any old camera — specs don’t matter. Because the focus is on the creative and the craft. Yes, of course, there’s reasons for serious gear with all the fancy stuff. But more often than not the camera you’re holding right now will at least get your started. Hint: it seems to work well with a certain Sarah Cooper.

Summary: A camera is a camera

Panasonic GH5 with Rokinon 35mm lens

So there you have it. Just some thoughts and considerations. I think the EOS R5 will be a smash hit. But for almost $4,000 USD you may want to consider these other 5 options. YouTubers will likely try to push you over the proverbial cliff when it comes to new cameras such as the R5. Same as it ever was. But here’s something: go watch a YouTube video about the GH5 when it launched in 2017 or the Blackmagic Pockets or the C100. They’re just as capable today. The trick is to balance our gear obsessions (note to self) with the passion we apply to advancing our skills.

Stark Insider - Camera news, reviews, videos, filmmaking, opinion by Clinton StarkThe Other 5

Video-centric cameras that make the cut.

But you do you…

In the end, let’s be real, though, because after all we’re human. And what the heart wants… and all that. Who am I to dissuade you? To dash your dreams, and excitement? If, after all this, the Canon EOS R5 is still tugging away and tickling your synapses, then by all means do what you need to do (but please don’t stretch yourself financially) and go ahead and place that order. I’ve been there. Because: life is short.

Happy Shooting!